Samsung has arguably been at the forefront of putting virtual reality in the hands of the people. Their Samsung Gear VR headset not only had a fantastic price point of just £80 but provided a much better VR experience than other low end HMD’s (head mounted displays) like the Google Cardboard. They tried to make the headset as accessible as possible, even giving it away for free when people bought one of their new smartphones. However, here lies the problem, the Gear VR is only designed to work with Samsung Galaxy smartphones meaning that they’re missing out on a huge chunk of potential consumers that don’t already own one.
Whilst they do remain at the top of the game for smartphone paired Vr headsets, they are looking to now expand into the higher end of the market in order to compete with the likes of Oculus, HTC and Sony in the VR race. Their current introductory VR model can only last for so long when far more superior headsets already exist (even if they are a lot pricier).
Samsung, has gone form strength to strength in recent year, becoming one of the leading smartphone manufacturers (which has increased their profits by 14% this year alone) and designing some of the worlds best and most desirable screens -whether thats on your phone or in you living room. With the strength of their brand and over 80 years of experience in technology, there is no reason why they couldn’t become a market leader in VR.
Samsung’s head of software and services R&D department, Injong Rhee, recently stated that Samsung is working on a wireless virtual reality device that “may not require one of it’s Smartphones to act as a screen” or power the device. It was also revealed that this device might come with the functionality for positional, hand and gesture tracking. If this headset actually comes into production then it would be in a much stronger position than it’s current competitors as it would have the same functionality but would not require a PC or Games console to power it. Samsung could well be pushing us into the future of mobile VR.
The fact that Samsung are looking into this begs an important question about their current relationship with oculus. This is as their Gear Vr headset was created through a collaboration with Oculus, and uses the Oculus store for content. So if Samsung go it alone on this venture in order to compete with VR’s biggest brands, what will happen to this relationship?
Alas, we might be sometime away from finding out the answer to that question as Rhee was also quoted to have said that “VR is amazing, but the industry is still at its infancy,” stating that any stand alone wireless headset would be years away from a release at this point. Either way, it’s still exciting to know what Samsung is working towards.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this as we find out more @VRandstuff